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Press Release


July 7, 2016

Contact: Steve Rossie

T 804.354.9557

C 804.205.6526

Year-Old Richmond Catholic Theatre Receives Rare Vatican Invitation To Perform Play Written By Saint Pope John Paul II At World Youth Day In Krakow, Poland On July 29

Theater group will perform “The Jeweler’s Shop” at international gathering that will attract three million, including Pope Francis

Richmond, Va. – Richmond Catholic Theatre, which celebrated its one-year anniversary on June 19, has received a rare invitation from the Vatican to perform at World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland this July 29. World Youth Day is held once every three years at a predetermined host city and draws millions of young people and young adults from around the world. Pope Francis will attend and participate in events there.

The theater group will perform “The Jeweler’s Shop: a meditation on the sacrament of matrimony, passing on occasion into a drama,” which was written by Saint Pope John Paul II in 1960 when he was the auxiliary bishop of Krakow. Before his ordination as a priest, Karol Wojtyla (his birth name) was an actor and playwright, and continued to write and promote theater throughout his ordained life as a way to evangelize.

“The Jeweler’s Shop” is Richmond Catholic Theatre’s first production. It has performed the play at parishes in the Diocese of Richmond, including the Cathedral of The Sacred Heart, and was selected to perform it at the 12th Annual Acts of Faith Festival in Richmond last December.

The invitation by The Vatican isn’t Richmond Catholic Theatre’s first interaction with the Holy See. It first had to gain Vatican permission last year just to produce the play in Richmond. A year later it’s going to perform it at the Church’s largest single gathering in John Paul II’s home country.

“The Jeweler’s Shop” is a meditation on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony with dramatic elements. It looks at marriage through three different couples: a young, newly engaged couple; one in the midst of marital turmoil; and another highly aware of the wounds left in them by their parents’ relationships. Presented in a minimalistic, rhapsodic style, “The Jeweler’s Shop” challenges the audience to look at the Absolute Existence and Love that is God.

“Richmond Catholic Theatre’s mission is to bolster faith, embolden hope and deepen love through meaningful performances rooted in the universal, Catholic worldview; to draw the community into a conversation about the dignity of the human person,” President and Managing Artistic Director Christine Arena said.

“It was a six-month, nail-biting, prayer-hustling application period, but now we relish this unique opportunity to evangelize through a play written by Saint John Paul II at this major international event in the city where he served as bishop. We will shout God’s message to a huge chunk of an estimated three million people. We are thrilled!” She also said the company, which is comprised of young adults who all have day jobs and who perform and work for RCT voluntarily, is looking to raise $20,000 for its travel expenses and to film a documentary, in partnership with Iceberg Media LLC, of its journey to Krakow and its experiences at World Youth Day.

“It is our fervent hope that this performance and documentary will start conversations about faith, human dignity, Absolute Love and Existence beyond our Commonwealth,” Arena said.

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